Friday, December 15, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Extra jokey and way too long, 'The Last Jedi' is not the second coming of 'Empire Strikes Back.' Made for 'Star Wars' fanboys and those who won't mind the franchise being Marvel-ized.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A few months ago The Dark Tower was released to dismal reviews. While I didn’t love what Sony Pictures cobbled together, I was just about the only person I know who didn’t despise it the second the credits rolled. As a Tower “junkie” fellow fans could not believe I didn’t hate the film considering how indepth my reading of the Tower was. Now, I find myself on the flipside of the fence gazing at the Star Wars fanboys as they proclaim The Last Jedi the greatest entry since The Empire Strikes Back. It’s not. While far from a bad film by any means — it’s absolutely entertaining — it has a lot of issues.

Picking up right where The Force Awakens left off, the Resistance is facing an evacuation led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). A fight ensues against the First Order with Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) leading the way to both save the day and lose most of their fighters in the process. Meanwhile, General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) is enduring the wrath of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) for failing to prevent the evacuation. The race is on as the Resistance heads for cover with the First Order hot on their tail while Rey (Daisy Ridley) commences Jedi training under the tutelage of AWOL Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on the adorably Porg-infested island of Ahch-To. Oh yeah, and like a million other subplots to drag out the 152 minute runtime.

Now don’t get me wrong, The Last Jedi is hugely enjoyable. So long as you turn your brain off. Meaning there are lots of things that just may infuriate you if you think about it too long. The biggest offenses include Rey’s heritage, Snoke, and plot contrivance/convenience/coincidence. Not to mention the final scene features a flaw perfected by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Director Rian Johnson has clearly been through the Disney/Marvel School of Screenwriting. Which also means there are jokes. Tons of jokes. I was happy with them. There’s never anything wrong with a little levity.

The actors all fall right back into their roles as expected. New characters are hit and miss. Some may instantly be smitten with the naive-yet-energetic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) after they warm up to her. Others may be instantly put off by codebreaker DJ (Benicio del Toro), the man Rose and Finn (John Boyega) hire for help. The best surprise comes in the form of a character from episodes past. Fans may shed a tear or two.

The plotting sometimes makes hyperdrive leaps into nonsense with some scenes and situation stretched to their breaking points. But the action and thrills is where the film mostly succeeds. And characters suddenly pop up where they need to be right when they need to be there. As I said, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is mindless popcorn entertainment hiding under the guise of something bigger — it is the middle movie in a trilogy after all.

Both The Force Awakens, and even more so Rogue One, are better movies. The Last Jedi is definitely bigger, but that doesn’t always mean better. I fear that with Disney looking to pump out a new Star Wars film every year, for those of us not as fully invested it may start to wear thin. At least if they only set the bar as high as this. The Star Wars franchise is finally coasting on fanboy service. For the rest, may the Force truly be with us.

3 1/2 out of 5

blog comments powered by Disqus